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Samuel Christopher Zurich, 95, passed away Monday, September 24, 2018 at Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community in Asheville, NC. He was formerly a resident of Weaverville, NC; Westport, CT; and Massapequa Park, NY. Sam was widowed in 1997 by his wife of 50 years, Eileen Kemmler Zurich, and is survived by his younger brother George Zurich, his children Kathleen (Kate), John, Linda and Thomas Zurich, and his grandchildren Christopher Zurich, Michael and Luke Stillson, and Maximilian and Amelia Zurich.
Born in Manhattan on April 14, 1923 to Matija and Jack Zurich, Sam was proud to call himself a first generation American. His parents immigrated to the US from Croatia and raised their family on Long Island.
As a child listening to early radio programs Sam found a special appeal in the voice quality of the performers, particularly the announcers. As a high school student he was cast in lead roles in several dramatic productions, laying the foundation for his early career as a radio broadcaster, and as one of the earliest pioneers in the emerging industry of television.
Inducted into the military in 1943, Sam served as a Staff Sergeant during World War II, and was deployed to Hawaii, Guam and Iwo Jima. After receiving an honorable discharge in 1946 Sam returned to his family on Long Island, where he and Eileen were married in 1947.
After their marriage, Sam was hired as a radio announcer at WTNT in Augusta, GA. He continued his career at WIS in Columbia, SC, where their first two children, Kathleen and John were born, and later became Manager of Local Television Programs at WBTV in Charlotte, NC.
In the mid-1950s, Sam was hired by a leading advertising agency, N. W. Ayer in New York City and he Eileen moved their family back to Long Island, where they welcomed their third and fourth children, Linda and Tom.
The family relocated to Westport, CT in 1962 and the following year Sam was promoted to Vice President of Radio and Television Commercial Production at Ayer, where he enjoyed a 24 year career, retiring in 1979. After his retirement he served as News Director of WSHU in Fairfield, CT; as a member of Westport's RTM (Representative Town Meeting); and he and Eileen traveled extensively abroad.
In 1991 Sam and Eileen sold their beloved Westport home and relocated to Weaverville, NC where they lived together until Eileen's death. In 2008 Sam moved to Deerfield, where he was elected to the Resident Council and served as Chairman of the Program and Activities Committee.
The Unitarian Universalist Church played a central role in the Zurichs' family life from the 1950s until the time of Sam's death.
Sam enjoyed extraordinarily good health and mental clarity during his final years, and was mobile and living independently in his apartment until just before he passed away.
A reception honoring the life of Sam Zurich will be held on Friday, October 5th from 2-3:30pm in the Blue Ridge Room at Deerfield Retirement Community.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Sam's memory to the The Diana Wortham Theatre Youth Education Scholarship.